"Yeah, it's me. Miss me?"
"No! I hate you! Where have you been?"
"Slow it down, volcano! I lost my phone the day I got to Lagos, almost immediately after I received your call"
"You got robbed?" I gasped.
"Let's just say 'Mr feather fingers' got it off me. I didn't feel a thing. I didn't even know till I got home"
"Wow! What a welcome party" He laughed.
"I'm really sorry I was unable to reach you earlier. I didn't have your number anywhere else. I only got your number after restoring my contacts on this new phone which I got today"
"It's okay. I'm just glad you are fine. That's the most important thing." I said feeling relieved.
"There's something I need to tell you... It happened while I lost my phone"
"I'm all ears" I replied, heart in hand.
"It's really important that I get it off my chest"
Speaking of chests, mine had begun to constrict, suffocating my heart which was beating like a 'djembe'.
"Shania? Are you there?"
"Y-yes I'm listening"
"Okay. Here it goes"
"I missed you!" He pronounced triumphantly, his laughter echoing through my brain.
"What did you think I was gonna say? "
"Huh? Me? Ehm... Nothing" I lied.
In truth, I had drafted a million thoughts in my head and nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred of them weren't pretty. Go figure.
"I really missed you though. I'll be back before you know it."
"Oh! Are you back already, because after today, there's no surprise to it"
"Is that sarcasm I hear? My baby is all grown up. Learning from the master, eh? "
We fell into a fit of laughter.
"Okay Shay, it's way time your bed past" He said. I imagined him grinning at his deliberate blunder.
"You are silly" I laughed.
"I know. But seriously babe, it's way past your bed time. You need to be up early for school"
"Yes, daddy" I said with a half smile. He laughed.
"Goodnight hun" I yawned
"I love you, Shania. Don't you dare forget"
"I love you too, Jake" I said, my eyes half-closed.
As I heard the line go dead, I closed my eyes with a fulfilled smile on my lips.
The next day, I was bugs bunny after defeating Elmer J. Fudd . I was practically hopping instead of walking, unnecessarily hyperactive. All that was left was two humongous incisors, a pair of really long furry ears, a carrot in my mouth and the catch phrase, 'Eh, what's up, Doc?'
Being in love can be so beautiful, most especially when the live is reciprocal.
Few days later, Jake returned as promised with lots of yummy goodies for me. We continued our love story from where we left off except there were slight changes in Jake's behavior towards me. Call me paranoid, but I had a habit of studying people. Jake was still fun and romantic in his own weird way but that sparkle in his eyes whenever he looked at me seemed clouded by something now. As a matter of fact, most times, it seemed he was avoiding my gaze. I said nothing about this though, afterall, it might have just been my imagination.
One brilliant July afternoon, while the sun was showing off its blinding light and treacherous heat with the intent of turning every living, breathing being into burnt offering, Jake and I ventured out on a stroll and finally settled under the most comforting shade of a beckoning umbrella tree. (The things people do for love)
"Walking is the perfect thing to do on a SUNNY day, operational word being sunny. Way to go, Jake. Very romantic. Now I'm roasted and ready to eat. Wanna take a bite? "
"Don't test me. I will take a really huge bite. Rawr!" He said, baring his teeth.
We laughed. There followed a really awkward silence which was new since we always had something to say or laugh about. I stared at my feet which had taken delight in drawing random patterns in the sand. Quite some time passed in that silence, interrupted only by an occasional chirp of a bird or the distant zoom of few cars on the highway, few miles away from where we sat.
"I remember the first time we talked. It wasn't the first time I saw you though. I had been seeing you in church every now and then. What thrilled me most were your eyes. I remember wondering what it would feel like, staring directly into them, drowning in them, getting lost in them. I started asking questions about you. Most people I asked didn't know more than your name so I decided to find out for myself. Approaching you wasn't as easy as I imagined it. Took me a while to pick up courage. That day, I was ready to talk. I had practiced what I would say to you almost hundred times and I could even recite it in my sleep but the moment you stared at me with those eyes, all the words just melted away". My eyes were transfixed on Jake as he said those words. Hearing that Jake liked me even before we met was, to me, like having extra meat in my food. I had butterflies doing some John the Baptist leaps in my belly. But my joy was short-lived, the sparkle in Jake's eyes disappeared almost as quick as it came. His eyes looked downcast.
"Shay, I really never wanted to disappoint you. I swear on everything I hold dear. What we had was special"
"Jake, you're scaring me. This is not the time for jokes" I said sternly, a tremble in my voice.
"I met someone. I really don't know how it all happened but I'm in love with this person"
I don't think the 9/11 bombing hit the World Trade Center as hard as those words hit me. I could feel my heart tearing it's way through my chest. I felt a sudden chill run through my body. I searched his eyes for a sign, any indication that he was joking. I found none. All I saw was that cloud. Now I knew what the cloud was. It was guilt and he reeked of it. He could not keep his head up or look at me.
"Answer me this, did you sleep with her? I need to know if that's what she used to take you away from me" I asked, tears glistening in my eyes, awaiting their cue so they can come pouring down my face.
"Him. Not her" was his response.
It would have been much easier to believe that ex President Olusegun Obasanjo was a ballerina than what Jake told me. (I mean no disrespect). He was joking. He had to be and if he really was, this was the cruelest joke ever.
"What do you mean, 'he'?"
"Of course, you're going to sit right there as judge, jury and executioner and prosecute just like everyone else" He spat with so much contempt.
I was stunned. I stood there, eyes wide open, mouth agape. This was not Jake. He would never speak to me in that manner. I know Jake. Or at least I knew him.
"It's just unbelievable that you accuse me of being judgemental. You!!!" I waved my finger in his face. "You who is breaking up with me right now, without emotion, I must add and just as if that wasn't bad enough, you are leaving me for a GUY!!! A male!!! Tell me Jake since you're the 'victim'" I used my fingers to firm invisible quote signs above the word, victim. "Tell me how you would feel if I broke up with you and not only that, if I broke up with you to be with a girl"
At this point, I was boiling with rage, at the same time, I was battling the tears tearing at my eyes.
"Listen, I'm sorry for the turn this is taking. I know it is a lot, all at once"
"You're damn right it is! I refuse to accept this. It is delirious." I blurted.
"Babe, I'm sorry. I didn't plan for this to happen the way it did but what's done is done and I'd rather you be free to be with someone else "
"So, answer me this, were you ever in love with me?" My heart sank in anticipation of disappointment but a smidgen of hope lingered in my heart.
Jake hung his head low. When he looked up, I wished I would see some form of regret on his face, any indication that everything he said to me was a mistake but... Nothing.
"I really care about you, Shania. I do"
"That's not what I asked you!"
Then he looked away. That was my answer. Any hope left, extinguished.
"I was a fool " I said finally, more to myself than anyone else. I was already choking, trying to stop the storm surge of tears. I stood up and began to walk away.
"Shania, wait! "
I turned. I wished, Oh how I wished this was a prank or a nightmare I would wake up from eventually. I wished he would say it was all a joke. I would gorge his eyes out, figuratively for telling such a cruel joke but it would save me from this hell that had become my existence.
"Please Shania, don't tell anyone about my... "
I stared at him through the hot tears flowing down my face. Here I was, being crushed to powder by this revelation and all he cares about is his OUTRAGEOUS sexuality. I was speechless! I was flabbergasted! I was dismayed. I was... Arrrgh! Most of all, I was STUPID!
I turned around and took to my heels, letting my tears fly away as the wind slapped my face. I just wanted to keep running if it would get me away from everything, from what I had just heard, from the pain and the hurt, from JAKE.